Image via Wonderlane via Flickr CC
The US Patent Office is opening up a fast track pilot program to run over the next 12 months, giving speedy priority to the first 3,000 green tech applications. For a process that takes 40 months to complete, that's a really big deal. The move is intended to push clean, green technology our way as quickly as possible, with the patent office believing it will not only speed up the deployment of green tech, but also create jobs and boost the country's competitive edge in the cleantech sector. But will gaining patents faster really move green technology forward faster?In a country where gaining venture capital is based in no small part on proving that you own your idea and can move forward with it, the answer to that is, "Yes."
"American competitiveness depends on innovation and innovation depends on creative Americans developing new technology," U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke said. "By ensuring that many new products will receive patent protection more quickly, we can encourage our brightest innovators to invest needed resources in developing new technologies and help bring those technologies to market more quickly."
While actual progress in green technology also depends on other major factors, such as the inventors being able to get the products to market, and ensuring that the market will buy the product, gaining a patent in 12 months versus 40 months is a help. Inventor Michael Sykes, who works on projects for home energy efficiency states, "All my inventions relate to energy and energy inventions pay for themselves- so speeding up the process helps me as a businessman, and helps the end user start saving."
"Every day an important green tech innovation is hindered from coming to market is another day we harm our planet and another day lost in creating green businesses and green jobs," Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the USPTO David Kappos said. "Applications in this pilot program will see a significant savings in pendency, which will help bring green innovations to market more quickly."
However, this is just a pilot program and will only benefit the first 3,000 green tech applications to make it through the door. At least for now. If the program works, it will be expanded. Good news for inventors since there are already 25,000 applications that could qualify for the fast track program. But just how the success of the program will be measured is unclear.
Also, while it is vital to get green tech to market, it is equally as vital - and even more effective - to get education about energy efficiency out to businesses and consumers as well, since not having and doing things is more sustainable than consuming more. With Copenhagen talks commencing this week, the program comes at a perfect time to try and get efficiency technology out to consumers, but it will hopefully be just one of many measures taken to reduce the carbon emissions and environmental impact of the US. We saw earlier this year that good climate policy spurs clean tech advances; let's hope that this move and COP15 work in conjunction to speed along our green tech sector.
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